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Deepwater Horizon blast survivor: Safety may have been compromised

HOUSTON—These days, Ryan Haire has a tough time sleeping.

He says he’s still having nightmares about what happened on the night of April 20, 2010.

"I have nights where I still wake up and knock my wife off the bed," Haire said.

He was working for Halliburton that night, on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, when it exploded.

Haire said he was in his living quarters when he heard the first alarm.

"It was like a percussion blast that tore through our side of the living quarters and knocked me through the wall into the galley," he said.

His shoulder and back were injured, but he managed to get up, just as everything around him was coming down.

"The ceiling collapsed. The wall collapsed. There was just debris everywhere," Haire said.

There was no time for search and rescue. Haire and several others escaped on a lifeboat. Other men didn’t make it.

Haire said he was good friends with some of the victims.

He went to the rig to do pressure testing. It was Haire’s job to check the well, drill pipe and several valves.

He said the first sign of trouble that night came around 6 p.m., while he was conducting what’s called "negative pressure testing" on the drill pipe.

"We had a couple of abnormal results, and after I went to the rig floor and talked to the driller, my concerns were dismissed, and we proceeded with operations as planned," Haire said.

He said the driller, who worked for Transocean, told him everything was satisfactory and according to standards.

Three hours later, the Deepwater Horizon went up in flames.

"I believe the negative test is the last clear chance that BP and Transocean management had to determine there was a major problem with the well," attorney Tony Buzbee said.

Buzbee is representing Haire and 18 other rig workers in a lawsuit, accusing BP and Transocean of negligence.

But did the companies put production ahead of safety?

A confidential survey of Transocean workers on the rig, taken weeks before the disaster and obtained by the New York Times, hinted at problems.

Some workers said "company plans were not carried out properly and they often saw unsafe behaviors on the rig."

Haire said before the blast, he didn’t see safety issues.

"Before this, no. Looking back now, I’d say maybe safety was compromised," he said.

Haire is still working for Halliburton, but he said he’s too afraid to go offshore again.

 

Len Cannon
KHOU-CBS, Houston
July 28, 2010